Fairfax County has gotten a little help from the federal government for its efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing.
The county was awarded a total of $8.9 million in grants and other funds by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced on Friday (May 13).
The funding comes from three different programs:
- $5.9 million in Community Development Block Grants, which can be used for housing construction, homeowner assistance, infrastructure, economic development, and other community projects
- $2.5 million from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which supports partnerships with nonprofits to provide affordable housing and direct rental assistance to low-income individuals
- $515,135 from the Emergency Solutions Grant program, which funds emergency shelters, services for people experiencing homelessness, and homelessness prevention programs
The county typically receives approximately $8.5 million each year from those programs, according to the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says federal funds “are critical” to helping the county achieve its affordable housing goals, which was recently doubled to 10,000 new units by 2034.
“I thank Senators Warner and Kaine for helping us to advance housing opportunities for veterans and their families, providing supportive housing for those with special needs, enabling older adults to age in place, and much more,” McKay said. “Fairfax County is working every single day to ensure that everyone here access to a safe, secure, and affordable home.”
With the block grant and HOME funds, the county says it has been able to create or preserve over 800 affordable housing units, along with 220 affordable rental units, in the past five years. Projects that have benefitted include Wesley Housing’s The Arden in Huntington, the new Lee District Community Center, and a planned acquisition of 12 condominiums by the nonprofit Pathway Recovery.
According to Housing and Community Development spokesperson Benjamin Boxer, the new funds will be allocated in accordance with the county’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan and the related One-Year Action Plan, which set housing goals and establish services for older adults, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and households earning 30% or less of the area median income.
The newest One-Year Action Plan, which is currently under review and will take effect for fiscal year 2023 on July 1, calls for funding for 13 different projects, ranging from rental assistance vouchers to home repairs for seniors and people with disabilities in Falls Church and Herndon.
Overall, Virginia will receive $114.7 million from HUD.
“All Virginians deserve access to safe and affordable housing, but rents and home prices have skyrocketed across Virginia in recent years,” Kaine and Warner said in a joint statement. “We’re glad that this funding will go to supporting the construction of new affordable housing units and help Virginians access more housing options.”
(Updated at 9 a.m.) County Board Chair Tests Positive for Covid — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay announced last night (Monday) that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He reported experiencing “minor symptoms which are uncomfortable but manageable” and is currently working from home and quarantining. [Jeff McKay/Twitter]
Johnny Depp Fans Wait at Courthouse — “Fans who stood outside the main entrance of the Fairfax County Courthouse with the hopes of glimpsing actor Johnny Depp as he appeared for the first day of his defamation trial were disappointed. The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star skipped the crowds and entered the courthouse through another door.” [Patch]
Sen. Mark Warner Visits for Affordable Housing Talk — “Every community needs access to affordable housing. Glad to deliver funding to Fairfax County today to create up to 250 affordable housing units and talk to local leaders about how we can further support their initiatives at a federal level.” [Mark Warner/Twitter]
Trees Cut Down for Mount Vernon Bicycle Trail Project — “Construction to improve and link the Mount Vernon Bike Trail along the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway is in its early stages and to clear the way, a significant number of trees have been cut down along the road. According to the project team, there is no plan to replant additional trees when the project is completed, a county spokesperson said.” [The Connection]
Tysons Real Estate Leaders Explore Nats Sale — The Lerner family, which is behind the Tysons II development master plan, has hired an investment bank to explore potential investment partners for the Washington Nationals, The Washington Post reported. Mark Lerner, the baseball club’s managing principal owner, called the move “exploratory” with “no set timetable or expectation of a specific outcome.” [Patch]
County Unemployment Rate Declines — “Inflation may be eating away at their earnings, but a larger share of Fairfax County residents had jobs in February than a month before, according to new federal data…The county’s unemployment rate for the shortest month of the year stood at 2.5 percent, down from 2.9 percent a month before.” [Sun Gazette]
Local LGBTQ+ Advocates Worried About New Law — “Under a new law, Virginia school districts must notify parents whenever instructional materials include sexually explicit content and must provide parents alternative, non-explicit materials if requested…FCPS Pride said the bill ‘creates an adversarial relationship between teachers and parents or guardians.'” [The Washington Post]
Public Safety Workers Honored in Reston — “Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce officials on March 31 honored police, fire-and-rescue and Sheriff’s Office employees for their outstanding acts of public protection. More than 600 people attended the 44th annual Fairfax County Valor Awards, held at the Hyatt Regency Reston.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Herndon Plans Town-Wide Clean-Up — “The annual spring clean-up, an opportunity for residents to place large or bulky items curbside for pickup, takes place April 27-29. Pickup is on your trash day only.” [Town of Herndon]
It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 53. Sunrise at 6:37 am and sunset at 7:44 pm. [Weather.gov]
A federal budget plan passed by the U.S. House yesterday (Wednesday) would send more than $8.3 million to Fairfax County, Virginia’s senators report.
Designated H.R. 2471, the $1.5 trillion spending package funds the federal government for fiscal year 2022, which began on Oct. 1, 2021, and ends on Sept. 30. It also includes $13.6 billion in aid to support Ukraine during Russia’s invasion and releases funding for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in November.
The House approved the package with two separate votes of 361 to 69 and 260 to 171 after removing a portion that would’ve provided $15.6 billion for COVID-19 response efforts, including vaccines and testing — measures that would’ve faced an uphill battle in the Senate, which will now take up the budget.
“We are pleased to see the House of Representatives vote to pass a full-year spending package, which will prevent a costly shutdown and provide key federal funding for some of Virginia’s top priorities,” Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner said in a joint statement.
According to the senators, the package contains more than $85 million in earmarks for Virginia, including the following allocations for Fairfax County, per Warner’s office:
- $2 million for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board’s Merrifield Crisis Response Center, which provides mental health, substance use, and developmental disability services
- $1.7 million to develop Fair Ridge at West Ox, a affordable housing community that the nonprofit Cornerstones Housing has proposed building near Fair Oaks Mall
- $1.03 million to boost the county’s First Time Homebuyers Program, which helps low and moderate-income families purchase affordable housing
- $1 million to purchase equipment and expand Capital Bikeshare facilities for underserved areas
- $742,000 to support a diversion program for adults who have gone through the criminal justice system
- $400,000 to help the county launch a new skills development center that would assist minority and low-income residents disproportionately affected by the pandemic with job training and finding employment
- $1.5 million for the Residences at Government Center II, a planned affordable housing development with up to 275 units
According to Rep. Gerry Connolly’s office, the $2 million for the Merrifield Center would be used to redesign the facility with security enhancements and additional capacity to support an expanding array of services, including the county’s Diversion First efforts.
“This redesign is necessary due to significant programming changes since the opening of the building,” the release says.
The spending package also includes $1 million for the Fairfax County Health Department to develop a “Stable Families, Thriving Futures” program focused on “improving the immediate and long-term educational, employment, and health outcomes of pregnant and parenting teens and non-parenting young adults ages 15 to 25 in Fairfax County’s underserved communities of color.”
If the Senate adopts the budget as is, George Mason University will receive nearly $2 million to establish Virginia Climate Center in partnership with the county, Fairfax City, and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.
Another $1.15 million has been allocated to GMU for a learning laboratory where students will design and implement projects aimed at improving social and population health:
The centerpiece will be the launch of a Summer Immersion Institute (SII) for 96 students. The SII curriculum will focus on building students’ capacity to address social health for communities and ensure access to care for marginalized communities in Fairfax County, especially for communities who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These projects reflect the shared priorities of local leaders, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing these dollars in action for the people of Northern Virginia,” Connolly said. “This funding will be put toward critical efforts to bolster Northern Virginia’s response to climate change, expand affordable housing initiatives, invest in workforce development and training, and more.”